Meeting Oprah a landmark event for women

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 25, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — After a full day in court Wednesday, perhaps criminal attorney Anna Smith turned on the television and watched, like many others worldwide, the final Oprah Winfrey show.
Smith, a Rowan native, met Oprah at 16 and has been inspired ever since, according to her mother, Elizabeth Smith.
“Anna started watching Oprah when she was 10. She could hardly wait ’til she got home after school,” Elizabeth said.
Winfrey has been on television for 25 years and has catapulted unknown authors onto best-selling lists, launched television shows for other Oprah regulars and created memorable moments that include Tom Cruise jumping on a couch and a road trip with best friend Gayle King.
Winfrey has given away everything from cookies to trips around the world and cars.
“Besides the generous benevolence to numerous projects, her greatest contributions have been opening minds to acceptance and appreciation of all people — including one’s self. This she did through personal example throughout the 25-year career,” Elizabeth Smith said.
Anna met Winfrey at the premiere of “And Still I Rise,” a play based on Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem.
“I knew that Oprah would come. I bought two tickets for her birthday,” Elizabeth said.
Mother and daughter went to the play at the Stevens Center in Winston-Salem, which included a reception and dinner where Anna and Elizabeth met Oprah, Stedman Graham (Oprah’s longtime beau) and various other celebrities.
Winfrey agreed to a photo with Anna.
Elizabeth mailed a larger print of the photo of Winfrey and Anna along with a ticket from the event. As a thank you, Winfrey wrote a personal note and encouraged teenaged Anna.
“It’s a nice keepsake,” Elizabeth said.
Anna has the picture framed, along with the signed ticket hanging at her law office.
Elizabeth said it’s going to be sad that Winfrey will not be on TV any longer, but she is glad the daytime host is leaving while at the “top of her game.”
On her final episode Wednesday, Winfrey shared her wisdom and the lessons she’s learned through the years.
Dr. Mehmet Oz will take over the 4 p.m. time slot that Winfrey maintained since the beginning.
She gave her audience her email address, which she promised to personally respond.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.